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Reinvention of Broadcast TV: 10 Things to Know

Broadcasters bet its future on ATSC 3.0
10/23/2014 02:00 PM EDT
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BobsView
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Do We Really Need 4K?
BobsView   10/29/2014 9:38:15 AM
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I'm still in awe over 1080P.  And I can barely tell the difference between 720P and 1080P.  4K seems like a collosal waste of bandwidth with a minimal benefit.

The cable companies can barely get 1080P right from what I've seen.  It looks down right terrible  on my neighbor's TV's compared to OTA broadcasting.  Of course, there might be other reasons for this.

I say lets stick with 1080P for at least another decade.  4K is a nice idea, but is the infrasructure ready for it?

 

 

 

Some Guy
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Who watches Broadcast TV?
Some Guy   10/28/2014 5:32:09 PM
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Pretty much everyone watches broadcast TV. Millennials are leading the way in cutting the cord with cable. Right after they cut the cord with land-line phones and moved to cell-phone-only households. The cable industry's monopoly practices and predatory pricing have disgussed Millennials. They're watching Broadcast TV, shunning cable, using their Internet for streaming and chopping their TV bill by an order of magnitude. That switch to streaming is going to eventually kill broadcast.

In the end local broadcast TV is likely to go the way of the local newspaper. Content is king, so the networks will survive, but local media is headed for the same cliff that local newspapers went over during the last 15 years. At some point all TV broadcasting becomes an historical footnote and content gets streamed because it is so much more energy efficient than MW transmitters 24x7. Especially when there's no local revenue stream.

To the extent that local broadcasters develop streaming and a way to montetize it, they will survive. Conversely, no amount of format improvement allows them to create a sustainable competitive barrier, nor saves them from cherry picking by IP-connected streaming. Thus, TV broadcasting is headed the way of the Dodo.

As Bob Metcalfe points out: who would have thought 30 years ago that TV would be wired and Phones would be wireless?

MeasurementBlues
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Re: Better be compatible
MeasurementBlues   10/27/2014 12:41:38 PM
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Junko,

Here's a tongue-in-cheek piece I wrote in 2006 about the DTV transition.

DTV could cause an uproar

There may, however, be a silver lining in the DTV transition. Many people subscribe to cable just to get a better picture from their local channels. I'm one of them. With terrestrial DTV, your picture will either be perfect or nonexistent. I expect perfect reception will come to my house, and I can then save $50 a month in cable-TV costs.

Well, I still have cable Smiley

The bill is now about $85/month for the same service. Smiley

MeasurementBlues
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Re: Better be compatible
MeasurementBlues   10/27/2014 11:23:51 AM
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The problem is, some things are on broadcast channels only, some on cable channels only, and some now on Netflix/Hulu only. So, we (my household) end up with all of them to get what we want, but pay for lots we don't want--shopping channels, religious channels, and channels in languages we don't speak.

Last week, I saw part of a show on CNN (Anthony Bourdain in The Bronx) but CNN stopped showing that episode and doens;t put the entire episide onlie, only excerpts. The part I wanted to see isn't available anymore.

 

OldNHMan
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Re: Better be compatible
OldNHMan   10/27/2014 11:05:34 AM
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Junko, A recent Nielsen poll showed that the average Aemrican home receives 179 channels, be it from cable or setallite. However the average number of channels actually viewed is 17. So we are paying for 10 times the channels we actually watch. Is it any wonder a growing number of people are subscribing to Netflx/Hulu/etc?


As much as people complain about the always-rising cable rates, it is the content providers who dictate cost, location of the various channels on the cable/satellite programming tiers, as well as ramming rarely viewed 'niche programming' channels down the throats of cable/satellite providers and their subsribers. It's no surprise the number of video subscribes has been falling for some time and the rate of decline is increasing.

Dish recently stopped carrying all of the Turner network programming, including rarely watched channels like CNN. So far no one I know is complaining. Also, Viacom priced itself out of the market when a number of rural cable TV companies balked at paying the huge fee increases Viacom was demanding and decided to drop all Viacom programming. From the last update I read, less than 1% of their customers complained about the dropped programming.

pinaz
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it's deja vu all over again
pinaz   10/26/2014 1:06:46 PM
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I'm bemused at how 8VSB was ramrod by the Grand Alliance.  Now, ostensibly the touted features of "ATSC 3.0" are COFDM and SFN, both of which are already in the terrestrial digital TV standard (DVB-T) used most everywhere else in the world except the USA and Korea.  Why does the USA need a bespoke modulation scheme?

Bert22306
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Re: LTE Advanced vs. ATSC 3.0
Bert22306   10/25/2014 6:12:47 PM
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The idea is, in essence, collaboration with wireless companies, which would allow them to offload heavy video traffic for delivery to mobile devices by terrestrial television transmission

Thanks, Junko. I did understand this concept, it's just the implementation that needs to be clearly spelled out. If broadcasters want to only play the part of offloading live broadcast, i.e. real time streams, from the cell network, to feed those streams directly to the smartphones, they will (1) need a wireless network much more optimized for mobile service, and (2) convince themselves that such a much  more optimized-for-mobile infrastructure will be in demand.

A network optimized for mobile service costs a lot more to build and maintain than a network more optimized for fixed service. And it is less spectrally efficient. For example, an LTE network set up for LTE broadcast service (which would be the best solution for mobile reception) requires many small sticks, and if you want to approach the spectral efficiency of ATSC 1.0, these sticks have to be densely arranged. On the order of 2 Km spacing. Which means, it makes it that much more difficult to afford free over the air service. Of course, these broadcasters may expect some sort of compensation from the cell networks.

The same general case occurs even for systems like DVB-T2, when they are set up optimized for mobility. Spectral efficiency is reduced, and/or the spacing between towers, when SFNs are deployed, is reduced. So, more expense for similar or reduced capacity.

And, any system that time-divides the RF signal into different time slots for different modulation types results in its own set of compromises. Modulation types such as LTE broadcast require a dense mesh of sticks. That same arrangement will be more expensive than required for, say, DVB-T2. And not to forget, any time divided scheme like that naturally limits the amount of capacity you can support for each individual modulation type.

I have my doubts that real-time broadcast to mobile devices will be so generally in demand that optimizing the broadcast RF infrastructure for mobile will pay great dividends. My bet is that mobile users mostly want on-demand content, with few obvious exceptions, such as major league sports  events. And at the same time, if the broadcasters do follow this path, they will be decimating the capacity of their fixed or even vehicular mobile service.

On the other hand, it makes a lot of sense (to me) for wireless telcos to implement LTE broadcast for those special occasions only, somewhat cutting back their unicast capacity, then revert back to optimized unicast service after the game is over. And I also think that broadcasters have to carve out a role for themselves in MORE THAN just broadcasting. Like, making their content available, both live and on demand, within the wireless and wired ISP networks. Any on-demand service requires a two-way infrastructure, not a pure broadcast infrastructure.

So bottom line, I'm seeing broadcasters looking to a future of pure broadcasting still, which I think may be a problem. And I'm seeing a confused set of ideas as to how this purely broadcast network, optimized for mobility, will be cost effective. Cord cutters are making FOTA broadcast TV more popular lately, strange as that might seem. Changes that reduce the choice of programs on FOTA TV, such as all of these would, may just end up doing more harm than good.

junko.yoshida
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Re: LTE Advanced vs. ATSC 3.0
junko.yoshida   10/25/2014 9:23:29 AM
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Hi, Bert. Great to see so much of your input here. Much appreciate it.

As for LTE vs. ATSC 3.0, Sinclair Broadast Group, for examle, has been calling for development of a broadcast overlay network. The idea is, in essence, collaboration with wireless companies, which would allow them to offload heavy video traffic for delivery to mobile devices by terrestrial television transmission. 

Similarly, Prof. Reimer at te Univ. of Braunschweig, former chairman of the technical module of DVB, is discussing a proposal on the collaboration between a high-tower, high-power network and a low tower, low-power network. The combination of the two (the broadcast network along with the cellular network), supposedly, could bring advantages to both sides -- especially in mobile reception.

Pryderi
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Re: Better be compatible
Pryderi   10/25/2014 6:13:12 AM
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Cable bundles indeed ad costs that not everybody wants to pay. But some of the classes of channel that you mention are not part of the problem, because they are not contributing to the price of your bundle.

Religious channels are offered to cable companies for free. Once they carry the channel at all, there is no reason not to give it to every subscriber, and so they do. Shopping channels PAY your cable company to carry them.

The channels in "languages you don't understand" are often local broadcasters. Broadcasters can end up on a cable system in two ways. The one that has been in the news lately involves the payment of rights fees by the cable system, and that has occasionally led to channels going dark while the cable company and the broadcast network fight over the price. But the other way, "must carry", is still on the books. If a broadcaster offers a channel to cable with no fee, any cable company in the primary broadcast area of the broadcaster is REQUIRED by law to carry it, and make it available to every subscriber who has a service that includes local broadcasts.

Bert22306
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Re: Some things never change, but maybe old dogs can learn new tricks
Bert22306   10/24/2014 6:52:58 PM
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So in one sense, nothing has changed in 15 years.

AZskibum, I totally agree that the words haven't changed, but the technology has. However, even debating supposedly "more robust" modulation schemes today, with the ubiquitous Internet in place, seems oh so 20th Century.

I simply do not believe that a more robust one-way broadcast service is going to carry the day for broadcasters. Signal robustness is not the only issue here, or even the major issue. ATSC 1.0 receivers have gotten considerably better over the years, and it seems clear to me that this ain't enough!

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